Minister Denis Naughten has confirmed that fees for overdue library books are to be scrapped, longer library opening hours are on the way and a universal library membership register will be set up under new plans approved by Cabinet to encourage more people to use their local libraries.
These measures are part of a new Government strategy and investment worth more than €75 million.
There are 330 libraries nationwide but, at 16 per cent, membership in Ireland is low compared to other EU countries. Denmark, for example, stands at 60 per cent library membership.
“The abolition of fees for the late return of books, usually in the region of 5 cent per day, will be welcomed by library users across the midlands region,” stated Minister Naughten.
“Longer opening hours and greater access for users to borrow ebooks such as Kindles are other measures sanctioned by Cabinet to entice more people into using their libraries.
“There is a strong focus in the Government libraries strategy – entitled ‘Our Public Libraries 2022: Inspiring, Connecting and Empowering Communities’ – on improving digital learning and establishing the library as the ‘go-to place’ for information on digital technology and learning digital skills which is hugely important,” added the Minister.
“I also believe the library network of up to 18 libraries across Roscommon-Galway, should be used to display national exhibits of cultural heritage on loan from national institutions such as the National Library of Ireland, museums and galleries to make them accessible to communities across the region. I am working with my Cabinet colleagues Michael Ring and Culture and Heritage Minister Josepha Madigan on moving this idea forward,” concluded Minister Naughten.